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258          MY    COUNTRY   AND    MY   PEOPLE

Cervantes write, and so did Boccaccio, out of the sheer delight
of creation. Money had nothing to do with it Even in modern
times, where there are royalties and copyright protection,
money is purely an accident. No amount of money can make
an uncreative mind tell a good story. A secure living made the
writing by our creative minds possible, but a secure living never
created anything. Money sent Charles Dickens on his American
tour, but money could not produce a David Copperfield. Our
great story-tellers, like Defoe and Fielding and SMh Nai-an
and Ts'ao Hsuehch'in, wrote because they had a story to tell
and because they were born story-tellers. Nature seemed to
have placed Ts'ao Hstiehch'in in a fabulously luxurious home
surrounding and then blasted this life all into nothingness, so
that in his old age, as a bankrupt scholar and in his decrepit
hut, he could recall it all like an awakened dreamer, and having
relived that dream in his imagination, he felt compelled to put
it down as he relived it, and we call it literature.

I regard the Red Chamber Dream as one of the world's master-
pieces- Its character-drawing, its deep and rich humanity, its
perfect finish of style and its story entitle it to that. Its charac-
ters live, more real and more familiar to us than our living
friends, and each speaks an accent which we can recognize.
Above all, it has what we call a great story:

A fabulously beautiful Chinese house-garden; a great official
family, with four daughters and a son growing up and some
beautiful female cousins of the same age, living a life of con-
tinual raillery and bantering laughter; a number of extremely
charming and clever maid-servants, some of the plotting,
intriguing type and some quick-tempered but true, and some
secretly in love with the master; a few faithless servants' wives
involved in little family jealousies and scandals; a father for
ever absent from home on official service and two or three
daughters-in-law managing the complicated routine of the
whole household with order and precision, the ablest, most
gifted, most garrulous and most beloved of all, Fengchieh,
being entirely illiterate; the "hero," Paoyii, a boy in puberty,
with a fair intelligence and a great love of female company,
sent, as we axe made to understand, by God to go through this
phantasmagoria of love and suffering, overprotected lie the